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Lin Onus

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Name  Lin Onus
Books  Urban dingo
Parents  Mary Kelly, Bill Onus

Lin Onus About Lin Onus view biography art works books and news
Died  October 24, 1996, Melbourne, Australia

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William McLintock Onus (Lin Onus AM) (4 December 1948 - 24 October 1996) was a Scottish-Aboriginal Artist of Onus and was born at St. George's Hospital, Kew, Melbourne, Victoria to William Townsend Onus Sr, Yorta Yorta and Mary Kelly, of Scottish parentage. Lin Onus was educated in the 1950s and 1960s at Deepdene Primary School and Balwyn High School in Melbourne, Victoria.


Lin Onus About Lin Onus view biography art works books and news

Lin onus

Early life

Lin Onus Lin Onus amp Mandjad Productions 39The Ongoing Adventures of

Born William McLintock Onus, but known as Lin, his father was political activist and businessman, Bill Onus. Bill Onus became the founder of the Aboriginal Advancement League and the first Aboriginal JP, dying in 1968, a year after the fruits of a long campaign, the referendum giving Aborigines the right to vote.

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Onus was largely a self-taught urban artist who, after being expelled from Balwyn High School for fighting, began as a mechanic and spray painter before making artifacts for the tourist market with his father's business, Aboriginal Enterprise Novelties.


Lin Onus Lin Onus art works at Etching House fine art works on paper

Onus became a successful painter, sculptor and maker of prints. His painting Barmah Forest won Canberra's national Aboriginal Heritage Award in 1994.

Lin Onus KIUP BULLA GOOKOOP THREE FROGS Deutscher and Hackett

The works of Onus often involve symbolism from Aboriginal styles of painting, along with recontextualisation of modern artistic elements. The images in his works include haunting portrayals of the Barmah red gum forests of his father's ancestral country, and the use of rarrk cross-hatching-based painting style that he learned (and was given permission to use) when visiting the Indigenous communities of Maningrida in 1986.

His most famous work, Michael and I are just slipping down to the pub for a minute, has been featured on a postcard, and is a reference to his colleague, artist Michael Eather. The painting is of a dingo riding on the back of a stingray which is meant to symbolise his mother's and father's cultures combining in reconciliation. The image of the wave is borrowed from The Great Wave of Kanagawa (1832), by Japanese printmaker, Katsushika Hokusai.


Lin Onus Lin Onus Limited edition prints studio craft australian art artist

In 1993 Lin Onus received the award Member of the Order of Australia "for service to the arts as a painter and sculptor and to the promotion of aboriginal artists and their work."


Lin Onus had a heart attack and died at the age of 47. He was buried at the settlement of Cummeragunja on the NSW-Victorian border.

Posthumous apology

On 8 December 2000, as part of Aboriginal Reconciliation, Peter Bond, Principal of Balwyn High School, at the school presentation night at Dallas Brooks Hall, issued a posthumous apology to Lin Onus for being expelled from Balwyn High School in the early 1960s.

Major collections

  • Holmes à Court Collection
  • References

    Lin Onus Wikipedia